A Day in the Life of a Commercial Real Estate Researcher in July 2027

by | 07 July 2017

It’s a Monday morning in Cincinnati, OH in July 2027, and I open my UberFord app to summon my ride to work. The driverless vehicle arrives within two minutes. I speak my destination, select private mode (I prefer not to ride-share on Mondays) and request CNBC’s Squawk Box on the viewing screen. Ten minutes later, the battery-powered vehicle glides to a stop at the 4th and Vine Starbucks. My coffee is waiting and is handed to me by a cheerful robot named Gilroy, who greets me by name and wishes me a good day.

As I enter the office, I am greeted by our holographic receptionist, Aspasia, who provides me with a review of my day. I activate my digital assistant and based on my schedule, I am directed to a community area workstation for the morning, while being assigned a small concentration room for some focused work activities in the afternoon.

Three transparent screens float above the work surface and upon my touch, I am logged into my “Research Dashboard.” Updated information flows into the various tables and graphs. With my fingers, I rearrange them on the screens to get a better view of what the markets look like this morning.

Filtering to office markets first, I see that Class A vacancy has dropped in the Cincinnati central business district by 10 basis points since Friday due to 85,000 square feet of positive net absorption attributable to Huey Dewey & Louie’s move over the weekend to the First Technology Center. The overall market netted an occupancy gain of 25,678 square feet over the weekend, while the quarter-to-date gain totals 135,874 square feet and year-to-date net absorption is a healthy 250,469 square feet.

Asking rates have increased at an annualized rate of 2.5%, while effective rates continue to rise at a higher annual rate as the market tightens. Landlord concessions are on the decline and on the demand side, tenants in the market (TIMs) data indicate a sharp increase in activity in the technology and digital marketing/branding sectors. The current economic recovery is now in its seventh year since the recession of 2020.

Great information — but the question, as it always has been, is what does it all mean? With one voice command, the power behind the dashboard works its magic. Within seconds, the artificial intelligence-powered predictive analytics tools produce forecasts for the next 30 days, quarter and beyond.

Real-Time Market Data

Is this scenario even possible? Every commercial real estate data metric available in real time?

There are many who say it can’t happen. While some firms are already marketing “real-time data,” commercial real estate information is still largely proprietary, confidential and somewhat time-consuming to aggregate and analyze.

But for the past few years, there have been growing calls for greater transparency and collaboration in the commercial real estate world. Venture capital is being dedicated to commercial real estate technology in ever greater amounts. Industry giants are jumping on board; many of whom are investing in and advising commercial real estate tech startups.

Consolidation of tech firms is underway, as is partnering and data-sharing between companies whose services complement one another. Many of these companies will likely fail because they are too narrowly focused, are late to the game or don’t understand the industry’s needs. Some “household” names may even lose relevance and market dominance.

So, who will succeed and what will the world of real-time commercial real estate data look like?

From Data to Insight to Action

Author Nassim Taleb writes in Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder that “data is toxic in large quantities.” This “toxicity” will drive the development of the dashboard approach in my vision of the life of a commercial real estate researcher in 2027 — a one-stop shop that simplifies data and helps make sense of the growing, complex and diverse universe of information.

I think that savvy commercial real estate tech firms will license their information to the owners of such dashboard applications — likely a consortium of the top tech firms and brokerage companies, providing subscribers with real-time information across the entire industry.

So, you might ask, what will a commercial real estate researcher do 10 years from now? The answer is as it always has been: embrace new tools to provide even greater value to internal and external clients.

Brokers will still sell and lease properties. Owners will still oversee their portfolios, trying to maximize value. Occupiers will still strive for efficiency across their leased and owned premises. And researchers will still tell the story behind the numbers.

Freed from the time-consuming processes of data gathering and number crunching, research professionals will have more capacity to provide brokerage teams and their clients with detailed and thoughtful insight. And maybe, just maybe, they will enjoy just a little bit more leisure time as well.

An architect turned broker turned researcher with a life-long curiosity about the built environment, Loren analyzes trends and data to provide insight to brokers and clients. He is passionate about making sense of the numbers and creating a value proposition through the story that they tell.

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